There's something about 2 a.m. that can make men lose their minds. The clock rolls over and if you're a group of girls in a bar—well, you're just asking for it, right?
You're asking for attention, the way you're brazenly sitting there, calmly drinking beer and chatting. The way you're requesting songs at the jukebox and sitting back down to finish your story. The way you decided to wear a dress to the bar.
You want those two guys to come up to you once, twice, three times to interrupt your conversation and tell you how much they love the song. To insist that they're nice guys and grab you and pull you off your barstools when you keep insisting you're not interested.
Every girl at 2 a.m. wants that. Why else would you be in a bar?
And when those guys finally get an earful on how you don't appreciate being touched and decide to turn on a drunken flood of insults and lewd comments ... well, maybe you just shouldn't be a group of girls out at a bar.
That's what went through my head early Sunday morning. Two friends and I were enjoying our last night out together in Chicago. We were talking like people do when they don't know when they'll see each other again. It was nearing 2:30 a.m. at one of our favorite bars and we weren't even drunk—and maybe that was the problem.
It's a situation that's happened before, will happen again and in terms of a bigger picture of women's issues, it's of little consequence. But few groups of men in Chicago have to worry that sitting in a bar past midnight might mean women ruining their night.
I'll always remember a night at closing time in Wrigleyville when a male friend had to put another guy against a wall after he tried to grab and kiss me on my way out. The dude was blackout wasted, but it was my friend's words that will stay with me: "You didn't look claimed."
The culture in bars, especially late in the evening, is without a doubt a predominantly singles' game. No one can fault guys and girls from finding someone hazily cute enough and wanting to see if he or she's interested. But that doesn't mean that those who aren't interested need to run home before dark. It shouldn't mean that we women need male chaperones if a bar is busy. And it should never mean sitting through a slew of homophobic, misogynistic, sexually explicit comments if you don't want to play the game.
Too often, women will play off the unwanted attention, flirt back—even if they don't want to—because the guy is just too drunk to get it. It's time to stop.
A guy yelling at women as being "stuck-up bitches" for rejecting his advances, to me, carries the same weight as someone trying to start a bar fight. It deserves the attention of a bouncer or a bartender.
Because sometimes, a girl just wants to enjoy a nightcap. If the guys can do it, can't we?
Emily Van Zandt is a RedEye reporter. By the time you read this, she'll be knee-deep in boxes, heading 700 miles southwest to a new reporting gig. It's been a great ride. Cheers! firstname.lastname@example.org | @redeyedrinks